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Archive for the ‘Family Room Furniture & Design Ideas’ Category

From the Design Files of Heather B – Painting Wood Paneling

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Design Question

Hi, I am painting wood panelling on one long wall and two short walls in my basement. All of the panelling starts at four feet from the floor because after a flood we had new drywall put in from the floor to just below the windows of a bi-level house. I have painted the lower walls and all of the drywalled areas of my L-shaped rumpus room/office a medium grey. My furniture is black leather and I have large pictures that may go up that have gold/grey-green “foiled” look frames and grey/green and pinky/red tulips prints in the frames. What color should I go with on the panelled walls? I was thinking a grey/green…

Design Answer

You’re on the right track. When choosing interior paint colors, ideally the color you finally decide upon should have some “context” to something else in the room. A gray/green color like a sage or khaki would be a good choice.

Another option is to match or complement the color of the tulips: I would need to see a picture of the space, but just from your description it sounds like a damask or a dusty rose shade might also work.

I am aware that you will have to be careful as to what kind of paint you select to paint over your wood paneling, but the third option is to paint it the same color as your walls. If you are concerned that it might be too monotone or dark, you could bring additional color into the room through one or two accessories or accent cushions that match or complement the colors in the prints on the wall.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next week when I will be answering another one of your design question.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wall Color for Finished Basement

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Design Question

In our basement we have two grey leather sofas; blue with a hint of grey ceramic tile floor; and walls are half drywall and medium oak (on the darker side) on the bottom half. I have had a linen paint color in the past…French vanilla is the name…and want to repaint. We are just doing a fresh up as we really do not use the basement any more as the kids are gone. But I have been watching too much HGTV and want to cover the nicks and so forth.  My neighbor says paint it French vanilla again but what would you think? Would a picture help?

Design Answer

I’m definitely with you on wanting to repaint since the walls are showing some wear and tear. However, if the French vanilla looks good in the room and creates the desired effect or mood you would like to achieve, then sticking with the same paint color will save you the time and effort of having to choose a new one. On the other hand, it sounds like you are ready for a change and now might be a good time to introduce some color into the space.

When choosing a color for the walls, it definitely should have some relevancy to other elements already present. Blue that matches the hue of the tile floor, for example, would be an option or if there are accent pillows on the sofas, select a predominant color that appears in one of the pillow fabrics. You could also match the new wall color to your window treatments if there are any. Given that it is the basement, you might want a warm color to make it feel even more inviting. A picture would definitely help me visualize the room.

 Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. And as for the rest of you, don’t forget to come back next Monday when I’ll be answering another design question.

Global Style Family Room Celebrates Diversity

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Global style is eclectic, exciting and inviting, all characteristics that you would want when decorating a family room. Because it celebrates travel to exotic places and the diversity of the world around us, it will add some visual spice to the room where you’ll be hanging out with family or entertaining friends. The great thing about any kind of eclectic style including global is that is can be as sophisticated or relaxed as you would like.

Thematic Design Focus

 Because inspiration for global/exotic style can be found in the materials, designs and customs of tropical places like China, India, the South Pacific and even the Caribbean, that are culturally unique to one another, pick a theme or design focus based on one country, region or landmark. To evoke a general, expansive tropical flair that is not thematically oriented, choose living room furniture, accessories and/or accent pieces that utilize exotic patterns or incorporate organic elements such as seagrass, wicker, bamboo and rattan that hearken back to their exotic origins.

Be Bold

Since it can be bright, colorful and “noisy,” when decorating a global style family room, decide where you would prefer to concentrate the color in the room. Should you wish to have a lot of brightly colored fabrics and/or rugs in the room, stick with a more neutral or earth-toned palette for the walls. The color in a global styled room should be layered throughout the space, but you don’t want to go overboard – the key to a successful global style family room is balance.

Be Organic

When selecting furniture for your global style family room, while it is important to emphasize diversity, you will want to find a happy medium between western and non-western furnishings, so that you and your family will be comfortable while watching a movie or gaming. Two or more furniture pieces should be made of or include accents of organic materials like seagrass, wicker, bamboo and rattan. Stone and shell accents are perfectly acceptable as well.

Be Creative

Accessorizing a global style family room will really allow you to express yourself. Global styles allows you to create the exact mood that you want for your family room – it can be formal in the traditional sense with splashes of color or visual teases like a wood drum end table and rattan chair backs/armrests; chic with a causal vibe; or laid-back contemporary. When accessorizing a global style family room, layering is important: blending textures, colors and finishes is what gives a global style family room its international flair and appeal.

Backed into a Corner

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Especially those of us who live in apartments, condos or smaller sized homes, we constantly seen to be battling a lack of space – space to store things, room for new accent furniture pieces that catch our fancy or just plain room to stretch out a little – there never seems to be enough of it, for whatever reason. Even for apartment dwellers, corners of rooms remain grossly underrated and mostly entirely forgotten. They often end up as “dead” space, relegated to dust bunny status. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Finding ways to decorate the corners of the rooms of your home is not only fun, but it can also greatly improve the aesthetics and functionality of your living space.

Hallways and/or Foyer

Corners in hallway are likely the most neglected places of the home. Empty corners in a hallway or foyer are open invitations plant stands, a corner étagère or even a small writing desk. Adding a piece of furniture like a writing desk not only turns an empty corner into a functional place to write or work on your laptop, it also creates a focal point in an otherwise empty area.

Family Room or Den

Transform “dead space” in a family room or den into a cozy place to read, relax or just veg with an electric fireplace designed to fit neatly into a corner.

Some manufacturers offer corner models of bookcases, utility shelving and other kinds of storage units that conveniently increase the room’s hidden storage capacity.

Even if you have a dedicated home office, a computer desk in the corner of the family room is a practical way to make room for a “communal use” computer – especially handy when there are younger children in the home.

Living Room

Placing a corner curio cabinet in your living room gives you somewhere to display your special collection of memorabilia or sports trophies.

Would you like your living room to be the life of the party? Reserve a corner of your living room for a home bar or a spirits cabinet.

Don’t think that you have room for your plasma TV in your smaller-sized living room? A corner of the room is an ideal place to park a television stand.

One, Two, Three, Three Rooms in One!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Fairmont Designs Caprice Boca Wood Sofa Table DeskWhether you live in a two-story home or an apartment, finding extra space to make room for guests can pose a decorating challenge. Do you decorate a room dedicated just for guests that will be largely unused throughout the majority of the year? Or do you make do with the convertible sofa in the family for whenever someone plans to stay over? Or do you sacrifice your home office/den in order to have guest bedroom? What if there is a way have a den, home office and guest bedroom all in one? The trick to designing a functional, multipurpose room that serves all of your needs is to plan ahead; with some creative furniture ideas such as using pieces that can do double duty, like a filing cabinet that can stand in as a night table or a day bed or sofa bed that serves as a couch, you can make room for guests without having to “waste” space.

Start with a Computer Armoire

A den is typically a “nesting” room – the nature of a den is relaxation, downtime, kicking back. Today many people opt for a home office instead of a den because in terms of space it is more practical. While a home office is for working and a den or a bedroom are for relaxing, the nature of these two rooms appear diametrically opposed. When blending a bedroom, den and home office together, a computer armoire is key. Computer armoires are designed as an all-in-one work station, which will allow you to work at your computer, file away important papers and then shut the doors on your work area. When used as a guest room or a den, once the armoire doors are closed, the room’s ambiance reverts back to a place to relax.

Pick a Bed that’s not a Bed

Of course, the main purpose of a guest room is to have somewhere for your visitors to sleep. Include some type of sofa in your multipurpose room interior design. There are several types of dual-purpose sofas available, such as the futon, the sleeper sofa and the convertible sofa. A futon with storage drawers or some other kind of hidden storage will be ideal for a home office/guest bedroom/den that is on the small size.

Adding those Extras

Bookshelves are an excellent choice when decorating a multipurpose room. When guests are over, shelves can be converted to personalized storage by placing baskets or storage trays in a section of the bookcase or shelving unit to use for items they would like to keep close at hand.

If your computer armoire doesn’t include file drawers, select a filing cabinet that is stylish enough to be used as a nightstand or end table.

A multipurpose living space is a great way to get the most mileage out of rooms that might not otherwise be used regularly year-round. Careful planning will help you create a room that is an ideal work environment as well as being a comfortable place for both you to relax and for guests whenever they come to stay.

Board Silly – Accent Tables that will Amuse You

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

An accent table is often used to complement the décor by adding another focal point or additional layer of texture to the living room’s interior design. The distinguishing characteristic of accent tables is their beautiful and detailed design that gives any room a unique, decorative touch. Another defining characteristic of an accent table is that it typically combines functionality with style or esthetics. Accent tables can be utilized in a number of ways: as end tables in a living room; as a side table placed next to a recliner or armchair in a den; or as a conversation piece in a bedroom or guest room. Designed with a den, living room or game room in mind, some accent tables will even amuse you. An accent table that can be unfolded or opened from table to game board or one that has a game board for a tabletop lends a room a decidedly aristocratic and sophisticated air.

The Lexington Barclay Square Newbury Distressed Square Game Table is the perfect example of an accent table that elegantly combines style with function. When it’s not being used as a game table, you can convert into a dining table for four. It’s also the ideal place to put a vase or drink a cup of coffee on a weekend morning while doing the crossword.

To create a space that is both a functional workplace and personal retreat, the AA Importing Weathered Blue Chess Table adds those little touches that will individualize your den or home office. Because of the intricate, hand-painted detail of this table, it has the Old World appearance of an antique or heirloom writing desk. When not being used as a chess board or game board, just by placing an accent chair or desk chair  in front of this enchanting accent table you’ll have a place to pen a short note, update your electronic organizer or an extra place to park your laptop for a few hours.

Accent tables that also do double duty as a place to play chess or a quick game of checkers, lend the rooms they are in uniqueness and a timeless sense of elegance. Cozy up with two oversized armchairs and settle down to a serious (or not so serious) game of chess or backgammon. And when you’re done, your game table will be the ideal accent table to rest your wine glass while you continue to chat with your “opponent.”

From the Design Files of Heather B – Artwork on a TV Wall?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Design Question

Dear Heather B,

We have a large flat screen in our lounge with a long cabinet below. I would like to put up a painting of some sorts above or some artwork on either side. I have attached a recent photo (taken during the world cup) which was the only one I could find at such short notice.

My husband says it will be distracting and the wall colour, which is different to the rest of the wall colours is enough. But to me the wall just looks too bare and needs some life…

Let me know what you think… take me out of my misery :)

Design Answer

That’s a great accent wall colour. Well-chosen and thoughtfully placed artwork shouldn’t be distracting: the only time it is would be is when pictures are hung incorrectly; too many pictures are grouped together; or the picture frames selected are too “busy.” It’s such a great space; there are several things you could do with this wall to make it more appealing (hopefully to the both of you).

Option #1: Put two wall sconces, one on either side of the television. It will give you the option of using not having to use the overhead ceiling light all of the time. The mirrored accents of the AF Lighting Candice Olson Hollace 6 Inch Wall Bracket Light create visual interest without taking up a lot of space.

Option #2: Place a set of wall sculptures like the Infinity Instruments Wall Art Reflection Tree Decor Piece and the Infinity Instruments Wall Art Autumn Memories Decor Piece on either side of the plasma TV. It will provide a decorative element while creating a sense of movement in the room. This might sound like it will create the distraction your husband would like to avoid, but walls are “boring” when they are “stagnant.”

Option #3: Hang a larger sized picture on only one side of the television. Another variation is to hang a set of three or four small sized pictures above the TV.

Thanks for writing in. Stay tuned next Monday when we tackle another interior design question. And don’t forget to keep sending me those emails!

Making Your Living Room Pop

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

While the living room is typically the place where you relax in front of the television, entertain family and friends, or just veg out in the recliner by the window on a rainy day, in today’s housing market many of the rooms in our homes designed to be dual or even multipurpose spaces. From an interior design point of view, the living room has always been a “multipurpose” space, in that it is intended to accommodate a variety of activities as opposed to say a dining room where eating is the predominant activity. Keeping this in mind, living room furniture like a sofa, accent chairs, a coffee table and other occasional tables should be versatile, functional and stylish but above all it should be comfortable and fit your lifestyle.

Pick a Style

To create a living room that is cohesive and esthetically pleasing, pick a style that reflects your lifestyle and personal tastes. Like stopping in to take a look at the trendy boutique in the mall before you start in on your “real” errands? Perhaps contemporary or modern is the design style for you. Do you find yourself admiring the Victorian furniture in a period film? Then traditional style will be a good choice for you. If you like the clean lines and sleek look of modern or contemporary furniture but also find some aspects of traditional appealing, transitional style is ideal, because it combines both contemporary and traditional design principles for a look that is sophisticated yet inviting. There are no hard and fast rules: maybe you’ve decided on a contemporary style décor but need to find a place in your living room for the antique curio cabinet you inherited from your great aunt. By combining different styles together that work for you, you create a look and feel that makes your home unique.

Arrange the Furniture

Once you have bought your new living room furniture or have decided what furniture pieces you will include in your living room interior design, you are ready to move the furniture into place. Decide what will be your principal focal point in the room: a fireplace, French doors, a library wall unit or an entertainment center are all ideal candidates for a main focal point in a living room. Then arrange the living room furniture accordingly, starting with the largest piece of furniture. Your lifestyle will also determine how you will arrange the furniture: if you’re a family that enjoys regular movie nights, then it will probably be important to you that the sofa is directly opposite the entertainment center and that the coffee table is wide enough to hold a couple of bowls of popcorn and a number of beverages in addition to all of the remotes.  You will also want to take into account traffic flow: this simply moves that you will have enough room to move around the room easily without bumping into things; ditto for being able to open and close the doors and drawers of case goods.


 The whole point of accessorizing is to make the room personable and cozy. In a living room or family the proper lighting is important. You will need a nice balance of table lamps for task lighting and an overhead fixture for ambient (general) lighting. Choose artwork that features colors already in the room, as well as being bright and colorful. When accessorizing a living room, you want to make it homey and comfortable without being cramped or cluttered. Think functional with style like baskets for added storage on a shelf or underneath a coffee table or console table. Place decorative candlesticks and one or two detailed picture frames on a fireplace mantel. These little touches will personalize your living room and make it “livable.”

If you are in the process of furnishing a new living room or updating your living room furniture, send me a picture of how it turns. Still not sure what style you should choose? Write in; maybe I can help.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Furniture Color Question

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Design Question

I am currently in the process of redoing the family room, since it’s just a mishmash of mismatched furniture with a large plasma TV on the end wall. Because it was previously painted not even two years ago, we’re not planning on doing it again. So the color of the walls are light blue. Same thing concerning the carpet; it’s still new enough that we won’t be replacing it. It’s a soft cream color. I want a contemporary look for the family room, something casual but still smart looking. With light blue walls and cream colored carpet, which would look better, white or dark brown furniture?

Design Answer

The short answer is either white or a darker brown like espresso or chocolate will work perfectly well in a room with light blue walls and a cream colored carpet.

The longer answer is that both choices have their pros and cons. Some people would shy away from choosing white furniture for a family room because it can be easily stained; especially white furniture that has white or lighter colored upholstered seating or accompanying accent cushions. However, white furniture can look smart, especially contemporary style living room furniture. It has the added advantage of being able to go with virtually any other color. White furniture can be a great backdrop for accent pillows of different colors. Or you can implement a standard contemporary color scheme by starting with white basics and accessorizing with black fabrics and other decorative items.

White in a room, whether it’s on the walls or it is the color you have chosen for your family room or living room furniture also has the advantage of opening up the space and making it seem roomier. This is a plus if the room you are redecorating is small to begin with.

On the other hand, choosing furniture with finishes that include chocolate, java or cappuccino will give your family room a much more sophisticated look and feel. Particularly in a room that has an area rug or carpet in a light shade, darker colored furniture will create a pleasing contrast, while adding warmth.

Flower Power: making plants part of your décor

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Houseplants are an inexpensive way to improve your home and breathe (literally) new life into your décor. Plants such as ivies, spider plants, lilies, palms and ferns act as filter, removing impurities from the air, leaving the environment fresher. They also balance the humidity levels of the room they are in – air that is too dry can make you and your family susceptible to colds; air that is too moist can make the space feel “clammy” or uncomfortable. Just like an area rug or wall-to-wall carpet, plants can absorb sound, reducing noise pollution and the negative effects of echoing sounds from harder surfaces. Sound wise, houseplants can make a room more livable by diffusing harsher tones and pitches. The benefits of having plants around the house are numerous.

Adding plants to a living room, family room or dining area, not only gives your home a welcoming vibe it also introduces some “life” into your living spaces. Here are some suggestions for decorating with houseplants.

Hang Plants Up

Hanging plants from the ceiling will help make the ceiling appear higher. Especially if you place a hanging planter directly in front of a window, it can help create a sense of privacy.

Park Houseplants in a Corner

Put plants in a corner of the hallway or entryway to brighten up “dead space.” They also create a natural focal point in the hallway or foyer, definig the space and making the area more attractive.

Group plants together

Use an accent table or a novelty shelf unit like the Cooper Classics Cordova Stacking Shelves to display a group of plants. It will add texture and visual interest to the room, particularly if they flower at different times. When assembled in one area, it also creates the illusion of bringing the outdoors in. 

Make Plants do Double Duty

Not just another pretty plant, select ones that have a specific function. An aloe vera plant is great for cuts and burns. Or how about designating one windowsill in your dining room or kitchen as a “herb garden?”

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